Global climate change

The world's oceans are warming faster than previously thought

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
1/16/2019, 1:55:15 PM

New peer-reviewed research published in the journal Science indicates that overall ocean warming is accelerating.

This research is based on analysis of four recent ocean heat observations.

Ocean heating is a critical marker of climate change because an estimated 93 percent of the excess solar energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the world’s oceans. And, unlike surface temperatures, ocean temperatures are not affected by year-to-year variations caused by climate events like El Nino or volcanic eruptions, according to the Berkeley News report.

Based on the "business as usual" scenario in which there is very little or no effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the top 2,000 meters of the world's oceans will rise by 0.78 degrees C. by 2100. This warming would also help raise sea levels an additional 30 cm (foot) on top of the rise that is caused by melting glaciers and ice sheets due to the thermal expansion of water.

Last year (2018) will very likely go down as the warmest year on record for ocean temperature with 2017 and 2016 right behind.

New studies now provide improved estimates of past trends in ocean heat content by correcting for discrepancies between different types of ocean temperature measurements and by better accounting for gaps in measurements in time and location, according to the report.

These corrected records now agree with climate models, which removed a large portion of the uncertainty that the scientists previously had.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Global climate change